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Senate votes to increase wind energy funding

Senate votes to increase wind energy funding
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The Senate passed an amendment Tuesday that would keep funding for wind energy research and development at its current level and restore a cut that appropriators had put into their bill.

The amendment, from Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (D-Ore.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate sworn in as jurors for Trump impeachment trial GOP digs in on preserving Trump tax cuts On The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes MORE (R-Iowa), would provide $95.4 million for the Department of Energy’s wind program, up from the $80 million in the bill proposed by Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.).

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Alexander, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees energy and water spending bill, is a frequent critic of wind energy, which he says gets too much government assistance and should compete on its own.

“We have sometimes heard that wind is a mature industry and that that is why the funding for research should be revoked or lowered,” Merkley said on the Senate floor.

“But, in fact, as wind is emerging, we're seeing continuous innovations that are resulting in different designs and different strategies for integrating intermittent wind energy into the grid,” he said. “As that wind component becomes substantially larger, we need to understand the details about how we accommodate it effectively.”

Alexander defended the funding level in the original bill.

“I wonder if the American taxpayers wouldn't think that $32 billion is enough to spend on giant windmills,” Alexander said. “That's the amount that the Congressional Research Service has said that Congress has spent of taxpayers' money to subsidize wealthy people so they can build giant wind turbines across America.”

The amendment passed 54-42.

The Senate also voted to pass a bipartisan measure from Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation MORE (D-Nev.) and Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) to add $50 million to fund the Army Corps of Engineers’ pilot projects aimed at conserving water in the Colorado River Basin.

Senators voted to reject a proposal from Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOregon Republican Party calls Capitol riot a 'false flag' operation to discredit GOP, silence Trump supporters The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis State-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss MORE (R-Ariz.) to defund federal support for local and state environmental projects through the Army Corps.